Knitting Needles: Tools of the Trade

comments (5) April 25th, 2008     

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Tina_Hilton Tina Hilton, contributor
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Just look at what came out of my knitting bag!
This high-quality bamboo needle, Takumi Velvet, was recently launched by Clover.
I originally dismissed the Knit Lite as a gimmick, but since I have taken them out on a test drive, I’m a believer.
Longtime kntting afficiandos swear by the needles from Denise.
Just look at what came out of my knitting bag!

Just look at what came out of my knitting bag!

Photo: Tina Hilton

Because most knitters are on a never-ending quest for the perfect needles, I have done some of the legwork for you. The companies I’ve looked at represent the needles you will find in your local yarn boutique, national craft chain, and online resources.

Think of bamboo needles and you'll think of Clover Takumi. Found in almost every yarn store you set foot in, the variety of sizes and lengths is enormous, including straights and circulars. The bamboo needles are smooth and have a tight, seamless join with the cable. Keeping with the nature of most circular needle brands, you (like me) have probably been frustrated with the “memory” the cable has from time to time. I voiced my concern with a helpful Clover representative at the recent Craft & Hobby Association Trade Show, and he gave me a neat tip for uncoiling the plastic cable. Dip the cord (not the needle) into boiling water and it will straighten out. He also assured me that they are aware of this concern and have continued to improve their models by softening the cable.

Taking it to the next level, a premium bamboo needle, Takumi Velvet, is now available to purchase. The bamboo doesn’t have the traditional bite we’re used to, but the smoothness will add speed to your style, and the cable is remarkably smooth. Check out the Clover site for a mind-boggling array of knitting needles and accessories.

Germans know speed. Like the Autobahn, your knitting will have no speed limit when using addi Turbo needles. Super-smooth, nickel-plated brass with a no-kink cord, these needles will have you reaching you destination in no time. The price point is a bit higher than most, but well worth having a few key sizes in your needle collection. A little-known fact is that they come with a lifetime warranty from manufacturer defects. Addi Turbo is the foundation of the line, and they can be found in circulars, straights, and double-pointed styles in every size imaginable.

addi Natura is their range of ultra-premium bamboo needles, and they're available in straight, double-pointed, and circular styles. The cord on the circulars is not quite as flexible as the turbo, but with use they don’t have much of a bounce-back to get in the way of your precision stitches or speed. There is a well-crafted brass cap that holds the needle to the join which has an indentation that can catch some more textured yarns.

If you have joined in on the sock and lace craze, addi Lace circular needles are a good tool to help you master these more challenging projects. Designed with extreme tapered tips, brass finish, and pliable cord, you will sail through the learning process or take your skill to the next level. They're available in size 1 through 19 and lengths up to a whopping 47” for you shawl makers.

Susan Bates
The perennial Coats & Clark brand of needles, Susan Bates, has been an old standby for generations. You can choose from a wide variety of materials to suit your preference and project requirements. Their aluminum needle styles include the Quicksilver and Silvalume, which predate the nickel-plated “turbo” style touting the speed factor. Their bamboo style has a nice connect that's pretty flexible and easy to tame. In stores this spring you'll find a new high-speed needle, Velocity, which is very nice and, at a lower price point, will give addi a run for their money. Also due out this spring, Smartglo knitting needles, which glow in the dark, are an eco-friendly (no batteries required!) way to knit outside on a warm summer night, at a concert, or in a movie theater.

Widget Products
The Knit Lite™ needles have bright LED lights in the tips. They're so surprisingly bright, you can virtually knit in the dark! They come in a wide variety of sizes (6 through 15) and 2 lengths (9 inches and 13 inches), the needle is well balanced, and the material is smooth and lightweight. I can’t wait until they develop a circular version. Check out their complete line of lighted needlework tools on their site.

Interchangeable Needles

Boye has been the industry standard for knitting needles since 1906. (Unfortunately, their site is under construction.) I have had a Boye set for 20 years, and it was old when I acquired it. They were my favorite set of needles until I lost the tiny “keys” that tightened the needle to the cord. Even though I couldn't use them, I kept the set. When I dumped my needle bag recently to take the picture of my obsession (see image one), a little tarnished “key” came tumbling out! That called for a Snoopy victory dance! For more information about their complete line, including interchangeable needle kits, visit this site.

Knitters who use Denise interchangeables are fiercely loyal supporters of the brand. The resin needles are light and comfortable with a smooth locking join and flexible cord. Denise offers a wide variety of accessory options and innovations to the kit, elevating it to an interactive evolutionary product bound to keep the user captivated and engaged.

More Knitting Needle Resources
Knit Picks
Crystal Palace
Lantern Moon

Whether you use the most economical needles or the finest available,

Knit well and often,
Tina Hilton

posted in: needles, bamboo, addi, clover, denise, boye, coats clark

Comments (5)

phydeaux writes: I can't imagine life without my Lantern Moon and addi Natura needles! I used to say I'd never use wood, now I say I'll never go back. I just discovered addi's (needed a size I couldn't find in Lantern Moon) and I'm in love -- knits sooo smoothly with even less fatique than Lantern Moon. But love them both equally! Great article -- gives a great overview for any type of style of knitter!
Posted: 11:31 pm on May 13th
margknittinaround writes: I love all of your suggested knitting needles! Thanks for posting such variety of style & price. Recently, I discovered Signature Needle Arts stiletto needles at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. I find them to be dreamy to knit with ;) Marg
Posted: 7:40 pm on May 9th
marthaj writes: I was disappointed that you didn't mention the needle sets by KnitPicks. I have every needle they make and each is wonderfull! I have the Denise set which I never use because they are "sticky" and several sets of the Boye which I loan out because I am not crazy about the points on them.
Posted: 8:43 am on May 2nd
rodezzy writes: Thanks for the updates on what is coming up with knitting needles. I'm not totally new to knitting but, I am expanding my knitting to beyond the scarf. I have a sock on needles and am looking for size 2 dpn's because the size 3 dpn's I have are two large for the yarn. Learn as you go.
Posted: 12:59 pm on May 1st
Skymom writes: Thanks for this great review of knitting needles. I always shop at the local craft store, which has a pretty limited assortment, so it's really helpful to know what else is out there--and what's worth the time and money to purchase via mail-order.

I recently acquired a set of Denise interchangeable needles and have been really happy with them. No more searching around in the knitting bag for the right size needle, and coming up with four sets of size-7 double-pointed needles (do they breed in there?) but nothing in size 6 or 8! Also, it's kind of cool to link up the various cables and end up with a really long one--excellent for knitting a big shawl or wrap.

My one caveat with these needles is that the connecting mechanism might be tough to handle for people with arthritic fingers. You might still have the flexibility to knit, but you have to pinch and twist a pretty skinny cable to attach the needle tips. I've wondered if Denise might come up with a plier-like tool that would take care of this without damaging the resin components.
Posted: 3:04 pm on April 27th
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